Climate of the United Kingdom

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The United Kingdom straddles the geographic mid-latitudes between 49 and 61 N. It is on the western seaboard of Afro-Eurasia, the world's largest land mass. These conditions allow convergence between moist maritime air and dry continental air. In this area, the large temperature variation creates atmospheric instability and this is a major factor that influences the often unsettled weather the country experiences, where many types of weather can be experienced in a single day.

The climate in the United Kingdom is defined as a temperate oceanic climate, or Cfb on the Köppen climate classification system, a classification it shares with most of northwest Europe.[1] Regional climates are influenced by the Atlantic Ocean and latitude. Northern Ireland, Wales and western parts of England and Scotland, being closest to the Atlantic Ocean, are generally the mildest, wettest and windiest regions of the UK, and temperature ranges here are seldom extreme. Eastern areas are drier, cooler, less windy and also experience the greatest daily and seasonal temperature variations. Northern areas are generally cooler, wetter and have slightly larger temperature ranges than southern areas.

Though the UK is mostly under the influence of the maritime tropical air mass from the south-west, different regions are more susceptible than others when different air masses affect the country: Northern Ireland and the west of Scotland are the most exposed to the maritime polar air mass which brings cool moist air; the east of Scotland and north-east England are more exposed to the continental polar air mass which brings cold dry air; the south and south-east of England are more exposed to the continental tropical air mass which brings warm dry air (and consequently most of the time the warmest summer temperatures); and Wales and the south-west of England are the most exposed to the maritime tropical air mass which brings warm moist air.

If the air masses are strong enough in their respective areas during the summer, there can sometimes be a large difference in temperature between the far north of Scotland (including the Islands) and south-east of England – often a difference of 10–15 °C (18-27 °F) but sometimes of as much as 20 °C (36 °F) or more. An example of this could be that in the height of summer the Northern Isles could have temperatures around 15 °C (59 °F) and areas around London could reach 30 °C (86 °F).

England[edit]

England has warmer maximum and minimum temperatures throughout the year than the other areas of the UK, though Wales has milder minima from November to February, and Northern Ireland has warmer maxima from December to February. England is also sunnier throughout the year, but unlike Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland, the sunniest month is July, totaling 193.5 hours. It rains on fewer days in every month throughout the year than the rest of the UK, and rainfall totals are less in every month, with the driest month, May, averaging 58.4 mm (2.30 in).[2] The climate of south-west England experiences a seasonal temperature variation, although it is less extreme than most of the United Kingdom. Gales are less common in England compared to Scotland, however on some occasions there can be strong winds, and rarely, the remains of Atlantic hurricanes and tropical storms. Some events such as the Great Storm of 1987 occurred near to the UK and caused damage in England. The prevailing wind direction for England is normally the south-west.

England Weather Averages
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average maximum temperature
°C (°F)
6.9
(44.4)
7.2
(45.0)
9.8
(49.6)
12.4
(54.3)
15.8
(60.4)
18.6
(65.5)
20.9
(69.6)
20.7
(69.3)
17.9
(64.2)
13.9
(57.0)
9.9
(49.8)
7.2
(45.0)
13.5
(56.3)
Average minimum temperature
°C (°F)
1.3
(34.4)
1.1
(34.0)
2.6
(36.7)
3.9
(39.0)
6.7
(44.1)
9.5
(49.1)
11.7
(53,1)
11.5
(52.7)
9.6
(49.3)
6.9
(44.4)
3.8
(38.8)
1.6
(34.9)
5.9
(42.6)
Sunshine
hours
54.2 74.3 107.6 155.2 190.6 182.6 193.5 182.5 137.2 103.1 64.5 47.3 1492.7
Rainfall
mm (inches)
82.9
(3.3)
60.3
(2.4)
64.0
(2.5)
58.7
(2.3)
58.4
(2.3)
61.8
(2.4)
62.6
(2.5)
69.3
(2.7)
69.7
(2.7)
91.7
(3.6)
88.2
(3.5)
87.2
(3.4)
854.8
(33.7)
Rainfall ≥ 1 mm
days
13.2 10.4 11.5 10.4 9.9 9.6 9.5 9.9 9.9 12.6 13.1 12.7 132.8
Source: Met Office[2] (1981–2010 averages)

Northern Ireland[edit]

Northern Ireland is warmer than Scotland throughout the year. Maximum temperatures are milder than in Wales from December to April, and milder than in England from December to February, but Northern Ireland is cooler during the rest of the year. Sunshine totals in every month are more than those of Scotland, but less than those of the rest of Great Britain. Northern Ireland is drier and has fewer rainy days than Scotland throughout the year, except in May, when it rains on more days. Northern Ireland is also drier than Wales in every month, yet it rains on more days. The rainiest month is January, when 17.8 days have more than 1 mm (0.04 in) of rain on average.[10]

Northern Ireland Weather Averages
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average maximum temperature °C (°F) 6.7
(44.1)
7.1
(44.8)
8.9
(48.0)
11.1
(52.0)
14.2
(57.6)
16.5
(61.7)
18.4
(65.1)
18.1
(64.6)
15.7
(60.3)
12.5
(54.5)
9.2
(48.6)
7.5
(45.5)
12.2
(54.0)
Average minimum temperature °C (°F) 1.2
(34.2)
1.2
(34.2)
2.3
(36.1)
3.3
(37.9)
5.6
(42.1)
8.3
(46.9)
10.6
(51.1)
10.2
(50.4)
8.3
(46.9)
6.1
(43.0)
3.1
(37.6)
2.0
(35.6)
5.2
(41.4)
Sunshine
hours
41.0 60.1 90.0 140.8 175.9 150.9 139.6 138.0 113.1 85.5 52.8 31.9 1219.7
Rainfall
mm (inches)
119.1
(4.7)
86.5
(3.4)
93.4
(3.7)
70.6
(2.8)
68.1
(2.7)
72.1
(2.8)
73.2
(2.9)
90.8
(3.6)
94.4
(3.7)
114.5
(4.5)
110.5
(4.4)
118.5
(4.7)
1111.6
(43.8)
Rainfall ≥ 1 mm
days
17.8 14.1 16.4 12.4 12.6 12.4 13.1 13.9 14.4 16.4 16.7 16.9 177.0
Source: Met Office[10] (1971–2000 averages)

Scotland[edit]

Main article: Climate of Scotland

Scotland has the coolest weather of any country in the United Kingdom throughout the year (with the altitude climate varying into Cfc), with average minimum temperatures in January of −0.2 °C (31.6 °F).[11] Scotland is also the wettest country in every month, apart from in May, June and December, when Wales is wetter. The wettest month is January, with 170.5 mm (6.71 in) on average.[11] Scotland is also the cloudiest country throughout the year, apart from in June and July, when Northern Ireland is.

Scotland 1971-2000[11]
Climate chart (explanation)
J F M A M J J A S O N D
 
 
171
 
 
5
0
 
 
123
 
 
5
0
 
 
139
 
 
7
1
 
 
86
 
 
9
2
 
 
79
 
 
13
5
 
 
85
 
 
15
7
 
 
92
 
 
17
9
 
 
107
 
 
17
9
 
 
140
 
 
14
7
 
 
163
 
 
11
5
 
 
166
 
 
7
2
 
 
170
 
 
6
1
Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
Precipitation totals in mm
Scotland Weather Averages
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average maximum temperature °C (°F) 5.0
(41.0)
5.2
(41.4)
6.9
(44.4)
9.3
(48.7)
12.8
(55.0)
14.9
(58.8)
16.9
(62.4)
16.6
(61.9)
13.9
(57.0)
10.8
(51.4)
7.4
(45.3)
5.7
(42.3)
10.5
(50.9)
Average minimum temperature °C (°F) -0.2
(31.6)
-0.1
(31.8)
0.9
(33.6)
2.1
(35.8)
4.5
(40.1)
7.2
(45.0)
9.3
(48.7)
9.2
(48.6)
7.2
(45.0)
4.9
(40.8)
2.0
(35.6)
0.5
(32.9)
4.0
(39.2)
Sunshine
hours
30.8 58.1 87.6 128.2 173.2 153.2 145.0 137.5 104.4 74.5 43.2 24.7 1160.4
Rainfall
mm (inches)
170.5
(6.7)
123.4
(4.9)
138.5
(5.5)
86.2
(3.4)
79.0
(3.1)
85.1
(3.4)
92.1
(3.6)
107.4
(4.2)
139.7
(5.5)
162.6
(6.4)
165.9
(6.5)
169.6
(6.7)
1520.1
(59.8)
Rainfall ≥ 1 mm
days
18.6 14.8 17.3 13.0 12.2 12.7 13.3 14.1 15.9 17.7 17.9 18.2 185.8
Source: Met Office[11] (1971–2000 averages)
Aberdeen
Climate chart (explanation)
J F M A M J J A S O N D
 
 
75
 
 
6
0
 
 
54
 
 
6
0
 
 
61
 
 
8
1
 
 
59
 
 
10
3
 
 
55
 
 
13
5
 
 
56
 
 
16
8
 
 
59
 
 
18
10
 
 
62
 
 
18
10
 
 
73
 
 
15
8
 
 
84
 
 
12
5
 
 
84
 
 
8
2
 
 
79
 
 
6
1
Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
Precipitation totals in mm
Source: Meteo France [12]
Edinburgh
Climate chart (explanation)
J F M A M J J A S O N D
 
 
67
 
 
7
1
 
 
47
 
 
7
1
 
 
51
 
 
9
2
 
 
40
 
 
11
4
 
 
48
 
 
14
6
 
 
61
 
 
17
9
 
 
65
 
 
19
11
 
 
60
 
 
19
11
 
 
63
 
 
16
9
 
 
75
 
 
13
6
 
 
62
 
 
9
3
 
 
60
 
 
7
1
Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
Precipitation totals in mm
Source: Met Office [13]
Glasgow
Climate chart (explanation)
J F M A M J J A S O N D
 
 
148
 
 
7
1
 
 
104
 
 
7
1
 
 
112
 
 
9
3
 
 
63
 
 
11
4
 
 
67
 
 
14
7
 
 
66
 
 
16
10
 
 
73
 
 
19
12
 
 
92
 
 
19
11
 
 
112
 
 
16
9
 
 
143
 
 
12
6
 
 
126
 
 
9
4
 
 
135
 
 
7
1
Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
Precipitation totals in mm
Source: Met Office [14]
Lerwick
Climate chart (explanation)
J F M A M J J A S O N D
 
 
142
 
 
5
1
 
 
120
 
 
5
1
 
 
124
 
 
6
2
 
 
70
 
 
8
3
 
 
53
 
 
10
5
 
 
58
 
 
12
7
 
 
66
 
 
14
10
 
 
83
 
 
14
10
 
 
106
 
 
12
8
 
 
141
 
 
10
6
 
 
146
 
 
7
4
 
 
142
 
 
6
2
Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
Precipitation totals in mm
Source: Met Office [15]

Wales[edit]

Wales has warmer temperatures throughout the year than Scotland, and has milder winter minima than England, but cooler winter maxima than Northern Ireland. Wales is wetter throughout the year than Northern Ireland and England, but has fewer rainy days than Northern Ireland; meaning that rainfall tends to be more intense. Wales is also drier than Scotland in every month apart from May, June and December, and there are fewer days with rain than in Scotland. Sunshine totals throughout the year are more than that of Scotland and Northern Ireland, but less than that of neighbouring England. May is the sunniest month, averaging 186.8 hours.[16]

Wales 1971-2000[16]
Climate chart (explanation)
J F M A M J J A S O N D
 
 
158
 
 
7
1
 
 
114
 
 
7
1
 
 
119
 
 
9
2
 
 
86
 
 
11
3
 
 
81
 
 
15
6
 
 
86
 
 
17
9
 
 
78
 
 
19
11
 
 
106
 
 
19
11
 
 
124
 
 
16
9
 
 
153
 
 
13
7
 
 
157
 
 
9
4
 
 
173
 
 
7
2
Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
Precipitation totals in mm
Wales Weather Averages
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average maximum temperature °C (°F) 6.5
(43.7)
6.6
(43.9)
8.6
(47.5)
11.0
(51.8)
14.5
(58.1)
16.8
(62.2)
19.1
(66.4)
18.8
(65.8)
16.2
(61.2)
12.8
(55.0)
9.3
(48.7)
7.4
(45.3)
12.3
(54.1)
Average minimum temperature °C (°F) 1.3
(34.3)
1.1
(34.0)
2.4
(36.3)
3.4
(38.1)
6.0
(42.8)
8.6
(47.5)
10.9
(51.6)
10.7
(51.3)
8.8
(47.8)
6.5
(43.7)
3.7
(38.7)
2.2
(36.0)
5.5
(41.9)
Sunshine
hours
42.8 63.4 94.2 148.0 186.8 167.0 181.8 168.7 125.8 90.4 54.9 35.4 1359.3
Rainfall
mm (inches)
158.4
(6.2)
113.8
(4.5)
118.5
(4.7)
85.7
(3.4)
80.6
(3.2)
86.0
(3.4)
78.3
(3.1)
105.8
(4.2)
123.8
(4.9)
152.9
(6.0)
156.6
(6.2)
173.1
(6.8)
1433.5
(56.4)
Rainfall ≥ 1 mm
days
17.4 13.4 15.1 11.7 11.5 11.4 10.3 12.2 13.0 15.8 16.7 17.1 165.5
Source: Met Office[16] (1971–2000 averages)

Seasons[edit]

Spring[edit]

Spring is the period from March to May. Spring is generally a calm, cool and dry season, particularly because the Atlantic has lost much of its heat throughout the autumn and winter. However, as the sun rises higher in the sky and the days get longer, temperatures can rise relatively high, but often tend to drop off again at night due to the cool oceans and the warm weather dependent solely on the sun. Thunderstorms and heavy showers can develop occasionally particularly towards the end of the season.

There is a fair chance of snow earlier in the season when temperatures are colder - indeed, snow in March or April is quite common. Often, there is no significant drop in either snowfall or freezing temperatures between February & March, when the surrounding Atlantic is at its coldest. Some of the country's heaviest snowfalls of recent years have happened in the first half of March and snow showers can occur infrequently until mid-April. They have been known to develop as late as mid-May over some areas of the country, such as in 2013 when snow was recorded on 14 May over parts of Staffordshire, Herefordshire and Wales. Snow was also recorded at lower levels in early June 1975.

Early spring can be quite cold, and occasionally the lowest temperatures of the year can occur in March, as it did at Heathrow Airport on 5 March 2001, 4 March 2006 & 8 March 2011. Temperatures below freezing are not unusual in March, even in the south of the UK. On the other hand, high temperatures above 30 °C are generally rare but can occur on occasion, the most recent instance occurring on 25 May 2012. It was even hotter on 27 May 2005, where 31.9 °C was recorded in London.

Mean temperatures in Spring are markedly influenced by latitude. Most of Scotland and the mountains of Wales and northern England are the coolest areas of the UK, with average temperatures ranging from −0.6 to 5.8 °C (30.9 to 42.4 °F).[17] The southern half of England experiences the warmest spring temperatures of between 8.8 and 10.3 °C (47.8 and 50.5 °F).[17]

Summer[edit]

Summer lasts from June to August and is the warmest and usually the sunniest season. Rainfall totals can have a wide local variation due to localised thunderstorms. These thunderstorms mainly occur in southern, eastern, and central England and are less frequent and severe in the north and west.[18] North Atlantic depressions are not as severe in summer but increase both in severity and frequency towards the end of the season. Summer can see high pressure systems from the Azores High.

Climatic differences at this time of year are more influenced by latitude and temperatures are highest in southern and central areas and lowest in the north. Summer temperatures rarely exceed 35 °C (95 °F), but when this does occur it happens more frequently in London and the South East than other parts of the country. Scotland and northern England have the coolest summers (average means: 12.2 to 14.8 °C (54.0 to 58.6 °F)), while Wales and the south-west of England have warmer summers (average means: 14.9 to 15.4 °C (58.8 to 59.7 °F)) and the south and south-east of England have the warmest summers (average means: 15.5 to 17.7 °C (59.9 to 63.9 °F)).[19] The record maximum is 38.5 °C (101.3 °F) recorded in Faversham, Kent on 10 August 2003.

It is worth noting that a disputed temperature of 39.0 °C (102.2 °F) was recorded at an airfield near Wisley, Surrey on 18 July 2006, during a prolonged heatwave which surprised many meteorologists for not breaking the temperature record set in August 2003, despite being the hottest month ever recorded. Similarly, a disputed temperature of 38.0 °C (100.4 °F) was recorded in Luton on 1 August 1995, which whilst would now have been exceeded, would have held the record until August 2003. It is speculated that higher temperatures may have been recorded in the hot summers of 1908, 1911, 1948, 1955, 1975, 1976, 1983, 1990, 1995 and 2006 (and indeed 2003 itself), which would at least break their own highest temperatures, if not this official figure.

In recent years, some very high temperatures have been recorded only briefly - when warm air is dragged over the country from the south for a day or two. Many meteorologists nickname this a 'flashbang' heatwave, and it is not unusual for it to set off or be followed by intense thundery downpours, or to drag weather fronts with it. It is in these conditions that the highest temperatures in both 2014 - on 17 & 18 July - and 2015 - on 30 June & 1 July - have been recorded. High temperatures can return after thundery conditions or weather fronts pass, as it did between 22 & 24 July 2014. Patterns like this have also occurred further in the past - for example, on 18 & 19 June 2000 and on 28 & 29 July 2002, which is quite notable for severe thunderstorms.

Summers in the 21st century have been a mixed bag, with some long, hot summers (2003, 2006 & 2013), and others which will be remembered solely for flooding caused by downpours (2002, 2004, 2007, 2008 and 2012). The summer of 2012 was so appalling that March is humorously considered to have been the height of summer, being the only drier than average month throughout the year in many places. For some places in 2012, 27 May was the hottest day of the year.[20] This follows on from an indifferent summer in 2011, in which in Aberdaron, 21 April was the hottest day of the year.[21] Summer 2015 was particularly mixed, with a flash-bang heatwave in the south-east breaking the July temperature with 36.7 °C (98.1 °F) recorded on 1 July, whilst the rest of the country experienced a poor summer, with August in particular being very wet. Despite the mixed summers the UK experiences, somewhere in the UK on at least one occasion has recorded 30 °C or above since 1993. At Heathrow Airport, the last summer in which temperatures did not reach 30 °C was 2007.

Autumn[edit]

Autumn in the United Kingdom lasts from September to November.[22] The season is notorious for being unsettled—as cool polar air moves southwards following the sun, it meets the warm air of the tropics and produces an area of great disturbance along which the country lies. This combined with the warm ocean due to heating throughout the spring and summer, produces the unsettled weather of autumn. In addition, when the air is particularly cold temperatures on land may be colder than the ocean, resulting in significant amounts of condensation and clouds which bring rain to the country.

Atlantic depressions during this time can become intense and winds of hurricane force (greater than 119 km/h or 74 mph) can be recorded. Western areas, being closest to the Atlantic, experience these severe conditions to a significantly greater extent than eastern areas. As such, autumn, particularly the latter part, is often the stormiest time of the year. One particularly intense depression was the Great Storm of 1987. A very severe storm affected the UK on 27 October 2002, and the autumn of 2013 was also littered with severe storms, including the St. Jude's Storm on 28 October 2013.

Autumn can also be a cold season at times - in recent years, very low temperatures and heavy snowfall have been recorded during November 1985, November 1993 & November 2010, which set a new record low of -18.0 °C in Wales on 28 November 2010. Snow also fell rather widely across the UK on 28 & 29 October 2008, causing traffic problems where it settled on the M4. Even further south, low temperatures can be recorded, with temperatures well below freezing as far south as Heathrow Airport between 29 & 31 October 1997 - for context, the low of 30 October 1997 recorded was lower than any recorded at this station in March, November or December 1997 and even the following January, 1998 - only the low temperatures on 2 & 4 February 1998 prevented it from being the lowest temperature of the winter at this station. The first frosts of the winter are usually recorded between October & December, but they are quite unusual in September except on high ground when the surrounding ocean is at or near its warmest. It is not particularly unusual for September to be warmer than June, as it was in 1999.[23]

However, the United Kingdom sometimes experiences an 'Indian Summer', where temperatures particularly by night can be very mild and rarely fall below 10 °C (50 °F). Such events are aided by the surrounding Atlantic Ocean and seas being at their warmest, keeping the country in warm air, despite the relatively weak sun. Examples of this were in 1985, 1999, 2005, 2006, and 2011[24] where October even more so, saw above average temperatures which felt more like a continuation of summer than autumn. Autumns since 2000 have been very mild with notable extremes of precipitation; the UK has seen some of its wettest and driest autumns since the millennium. In fact, 2011 was notable as many areas of the country recorded their highest temperatures of the year in October (for example, 28.2 °C at Hawarden on 1 October and 26.3 °C at St. Athan on 2 October).

Coastal areas in the southern half of England have on average the warmest autumns, with mean temperatures of 10.7 to 13.0 °C (51.3 to 55.4 °F).[25] Mountainous areas of Wales and northern England, and almost all of Scotland, experience mean temperatures between 1.7 and 7.5 °C (35.1 and 45.5 °F).[25]

Winter[edit]

Winter in the UK is defined as lasting from December to February. The season is generally cool, wet and windy. Temperatures at night rarely drop below −10 °C (14 °F) and in the day rarely rise above 15 °C (59 °F). Precipitation is plentiful throughout the season, though snow is relatively infrequent despite the country's high latitude: The only areas with significant snowfall are the Scottish highlands and the Pennines, where at higher elevations a colder climate determines the vegetation, mainly temperate coniferous forest, although deforestation has severely decreased forest area. For a majority of the landmass snow is possible but not frequent, apart from the higher altitudes, where snow can lie 1–5 months or even beyond 6 months.

Towards the later part of the season the weather usually stabilises with less wind, less precipitation and lower temperatures. This change is particularly pronounced near the coasts mainly because the Atlantic ocean is often at its coldest during this time after being cooled throughout the autumn and the winter. The early part of winter however is often unsettled and stormy; often the wettest and windiest time of the year.

Snow cover on The Saddle in the Scottish Highlands

Snow falls intermittently and mainly affects northern and eastern areas, high ground in Wales and especially the mountains of Scotland where the amount of lying snow is frequently high enough to permit skiing at one of the five Scottish ski resorts. These resorts usually operate between December and April depending on the snowfall each winter. Frequently in the mountains potent depressions may move in from the north in the form of 'polar lows', introducing heavy snow and often blizzard-like conditions to parts of the United Kingdom, particularly Scotland. During periods of light winds and high pressure frost and fog can become a problem and can pose a major hazard for drivers on the roads.

Mean winter temperatures in the UK are most influenced by proximity to the sea. The coldest areas are the mountains of Wales and northern England, and inland areas of Scotland, averaging −3.6 to 2.3 °C (25.5 to 36.1 °F).[26] Coastal areas, particularly those in the south and west, experience the mildest winters, on average 5 to 8.7 °C (41.0 to 47.7 °F).[26] Hardiness zones in the UK are high, ranging from zone 7 in the Scottish Highlands, the Pennines and Snowdonia, to zone 10 on the Isles of Scilly. Most of the UK lies in zones 8 or 9.[27] In zone 7, the average lowest temperature each year is between −17.7 and −12.3 °C (0.1 and 9.9 °F), and in zone 10, this figure is between −1.1 and 4.4 °C (30.0 and 39.9 °F).[28]

Snow in the UK falls almost every year but in small quantities. The UK can suffer extreme winters like 1684, 1740, 1795 (when London received its record lowest temperature of −21.1 °C (−6.0 °F)), 1947 and 1963. In 1963 it snowed on Boxing Day in the UK and snow lasted in most areas until 6 March with blizzards through February, which had significant and documented effects on the FA Cup - Wrexham were forced to play on sand for one tie. In modern times snow has generally become rarer but the UK can still get heavy falls, such as in 1978/79, 1981/82, 1986/87 and 1990/91. The winter of 2008/09 produced the heaviest snowfall since 1991, and the winter of 2009-10 was even more severe, with many parts of the United Kingdom experiencing the coldest and snowiest winters since 1978/79; temperatures plummeted to −22.3 °C (−8.1 °F) at Altnaharra, Sutherland – close to the −22.9 °C (−9.2 °F) recorded at the southernmost part of the globe at the same period. The record for the lowest temperature ever recorded in the UK still remains −27.2 °C (−17.0 °F) which was recorded on 10 January 1982 and 11 February 1895 in Braemar, Scotland and on 30 December 1995 in Altnaharra, Scotland. December 2010 was the coldest December in 120 years; the CET (Central England Temperature) was -0.7 °C, meaning it was the coldest month since February 1986, and the coldest December since 1890. Many places experienced heavy snowfall and extreme cold, temperatures regularly fell below −10.0 °C (14.0 °F)) across many areas. However, the cold subsided after Christmas Day, 2010. It is worth also noting that November 2010 saw an extremely severe cold snap, with lows of −18.0 °C (−0.4 °F)) in Llysdinam on 28 November. The month saw temperatures below average, despite what was actually a very mild first half. Spring 2013 was also notoriously cold - March 2013 was the coldest month of the winter (and indeed 2013 as a whole), which is quite striking given that December 2012, January and February 2013 were all also below average in terms of temperature. The following winter was the opposite - in many places, only on 11 & 12 January was any snow recorded, and the entire country was battered by a series of severe depressions and storms. The St. Jude's day storm first affected the UK on 26 October 2013, and many places saw no respite until a high swept across the country on 2 March 2014. Parts of the Somerset levels remained underwater for most of the winter and well into spring. Record-equalling gusts of 142 mph were recorded off the north coast of Scotland on 5 December 2013, with notably severe storms also recorded on 2 November 2013, 24 December 2013, 3 January 2014 & 14 February 2014.

In the 1990s and 2000s, most of the winters were milder and usually wetter than average with daytime temperatures going below freezing a rare occurrence. In fact, the winter of 1995/1996 was the only one which was defined as below average in terms of the UK as a whole, although February 1991 saw heavy snowfall & January 1997 was cold in the South. The winters of 2008/09, 2009/10 and 2010/11 have however seen a different pattern with these three winters being defined as below or well below average with large snowfall amounts widespread and very low temperatures; this was the first time three consecutive cold winters in the UK have occurred since the 1960s. Since the winter of 2012/2013, winters have been mild (exceptionally so in 2013/2014 and 2015/2016), although exceptionally wet. The winter of 2014/2015 was an oddity, in that it was generally quiet and sunny.

December 2015 became the wettest calendar month ever recorded in the United Kingdom, with January 2016 becoming the second wettest. In these months, some northern and western parts had 2 to 4 times as much rainfall as normal.[29] December 2015 was also the warmest December averaged over the whole UK, and had the highest positive anomaly for any month in the Central England temperature series which began in 1659 (CET was 9.7 °C, this is warmer than even any March[30]). Most areas of southern England had average monthly temperatures 5-6 °C above normal. Some plants flowered that would normally do so in the Spring or even Summer.[31] Hardly any stations in Wales and Southern England recorded any air frosts and temperatures were often comparable to those of April or May. The maximum recorded temperature was 17.2 °C at Teignmouth in Devon and Plockton and Achnagart in the highlands of Scotland on 16th. The lowest daily mean temperature during December 2015 at Heathrow Airport was still 8.2 °C on 9 December, comparable to the average daily high for the calendar month. Remarkably, December 2015 did not break any national records for high temperatures, just failing to reach the maximum England temperature of 17.7 °C recorded on 2 December 1985 in Chivenor, Devon and on 11 December 1994 in Penkridge, Staffordshire.[32] Despite the warmth, it was the dullest December since 1989.[33]

Sunshine and cloud[edit]

A sunny spring day

The average total annual sunshine in the United Kingdom is 1339.7 hours, which is just under 30% of the maximum possible.[34] (The maximum hours of sunshine possible in one year is approximately 4476 hours.) The south coast of England often has the clearest skies because cumulus cloud formation generally takes place over land, and prevailing winds from the south-west keep this cloud from forming overhead. The counties of Dorset, Hampshire, Sussex and Kent are the sunniest areas, which have annual average totals of around 1,750 hours of sunshine per year,[35] and many South coastal areas of England receive more than 2000 hours of sunshine on regular years. On the other hand, Northern, western and mountainous areas are generally the cloudiest areas of the UK, with some mountainous areas receiving fewer than 1,000 hours of sunshine a year.[35]

An overcast day in Plymouth, south-west England

Valley areas such as the South Wales Valleys, due to their north-south orientation, receive less sunshine than lowland areas because the mountains on either side of the valley obscure the sun in the early morning and late evening. This is noticeable in winter where there are only a few hours of sunshine. The mountains of Wales, northern England and Scotland can be especially cloudy with extensive mist and fog. Near the coast, sea fog may develop in the spring and early summer. Radiation fog may develop over inland areas of Great Britain and can persist for hours or even days in the winter and can pose a major hazard for drivers and aircraft.

On occasions blocking anticyclones (high pressure systems) may move over the United Kingdom, which can persist for weeks or even months. The subsided, dry air often results in clear skies and few clouds, bringing frosty nights in winter and hot days in the summer, when some coastal areas can achieve almost maximum possible sunshine for periods of weeks.

Average hours of sunshine in winter range from 38–108 hours in some mountainous areas and western Scotland, up to 217 hours in the south and east of England;[36] while average hours of sunshine in summer range from 294–420 hours in northern Scotland and Northern Ireland, to 600–760 hours in southern English coastal counties.[37] The most sunshine recorded in one month was 383.9 hours at Eastbourne (East Sussex) in July 1911.[35]

The Atlantic Ocean[edit]

One of the greatest influences on the climate of the UK is the Atlantic Ocean and especially the North Atlantic Current, which brings warm waters from the Gulf of Mexico to the waters around the country by means of thermohaline circulation. This has a powerful moderating and warming effect on the country's climate—the North Atlantic Drift warms the climate to such a great extent that if the current did not exist then temperatures in winter would be about 10 °C (18 °F) lower than they are today. The current allows England to have vineyards at the same latitude that Canada has polar bears. A good example of the effects of the North Atlantic Drift is Tresco Abbey Gardens, on the Isles of Scilly, 48 kilometres (30 mi) west of Cornwall, where Canary Island date palm trees grow - possibly the nearest of their kind to the Arctic Circle, at 50° latitude north. These warm ocean currents also bring substantial amounts of humidity which contributes to the notoriously wet climate that western parts of the UK experience.

The extent of the Gulf Stream's contribution to the actual temperature differential between North America and western Europe is a matter of dispute.[38][39] It has been argued that atmospheric waves that bring subtropical air northwards contribute to a much greater extent to the temperature differential than thermohaline circulation.[38]

Winds[edit]

The high latitude and proximity to a large ocean to the west means that the United Kingdom experiences strong winds. The prevailing wind is from the south-west, but it may blow from any direction for sustained periods of time. Winds are strongest near westerly facing coasts and exposed headlands.

Gales — which are defined as winds with speeds of 51 to 101 km/h (32 to 63 mph)— are strongly associated with the passage of deep depressions across the country. The Hebrides experience on average 35 days of gale a year (a day where there are gale force winds) while inland areas in England and Wales receive fewer than 5 days of gale a year.[35] Areas of high elevation tend to have higher wind speeds than low elevations, and Great Dun Fell in Cumbria (at 857 m or 2,812 ft) averaged 114 days of gale a year during the period 1963 to 1976. The highest gust recorded at a low level in England was 191 km/h (119 mph) at Gwennap Head in Cornwall on 15 December 1979,[35] and a 115 mph gust was also recorded at Shoreham-By-Sea on 16 October 1987. A disputed 122 mph gust was recorded on 16 October 1987 at Gorleston in Norfolk during the Great Storm of 1987. In Scotland, Fraserburgh in Aberdeenshire recorded 229 km/h (142 mph) on 13 February 1989, which was equalled during Cyclone Xaver on 5 December 2013. Wales' highest wind speed gust of 200 km/h (124 mph) was set at Rhoose, Vale of Glamorgan on 28 October 1989. Especially potent storm systems typically affect the UK during autumn and winter, with the winters of 1989/1990 and 2013/2014 particularly notable for the frequency and potency of storm systems.

An unofficial gust of 194 mph was recorded on the Shetland Isles during the New Year's Day Storm on 1 January 1992, and an equal unofficial 194 mph wind gust is claimed to have been set in the Cairngorm Mountains on 19 December 2008.[40]

Barometric pressure plays a role in storm systems. For the United Kingdom, record figures for barometric pressure recordings are:[41]

Highest - 1053.6mb (Aberdeen, 31 January 1902)

Lowest - 925.6mb (Ochtertyre, 26 January 1884)

Notably a low pressure storm system affected the UK with a central pressure of 914.0mb on 10 January 1993, however this figure is not recorded over the UK but out in the Atlantic, despite the system affecting the UK.

Rainfall[edit]

Rainfall amounts can vary greatly across the United Kingdom and generally the further west and the higher the elevation, the greater the rainfall. The mountains of Wales, Scotland, the Pennines in Northern England and the moors of South West England are the wettest parts of the country, and in some of these places as much as 4,577 millimetres (180.2 in) of rain can fall annually,[42] making these locations some of the wettest in Europe. The wettest spot in the United Kingdom is Crib Goch, in Snowdonia, which has averaged 4,473 millimetres (176.1 in) rain a year over the past 30 years.[43][44] Most rainfall in the United Kingdom comes from North Atlantic depressions which roll into the country throughout the year from the west or southwest and are particularly frequent and intense in the autumn and winter. They can on occasions bring prolonged periods of heavy rain, and flooding is quite common.

Parts of England are surprisingly dry, which is contrary to the stereotypical view—London receives just below 650 millimetres (25.6 in) per annum,[45] which is less than Rome, Sydney, or New York City. In East Anglia it typically rains on about 113 days per year.[46] Most of the south, south-east and East Anglia receive less than 700 millimetres (27.6 in) of rain per year.[35] The English counties of Essex, Cambridgeshire - as well as parts of North Yorkshire, the East Riding of Yorkshire, Suffolk and Norfolk - are amongst the driest in the UK, with an average annual rainfall of around 600 millimetres (23.6 in). This is due to a mild rainshadow effect, due to mountainous parts of the South West, Wales and Cumbria blocking the moist airflow across the country to the east. In some years rainfall totals in Essex and South Suffolk can be below 450 millimetres (17.7 in) (especially areas around Colchester, Clacton and Ipswich) - less than the average annual rainfall in Jerusalem, Beirut and even some semi-arid parts of the world.

Parts of the United Kingdom have had drought problems in recent years, particularly in 2004-2006. Fires broke out in some areas, even across the normally damp higher ground of north-west England and Wales. The landscape in much of England and east Wales became very parched, even near the coast; water restrictions were in place in some areas.

July 2006 was the hottest month on record for the United Kingdom and much of Europe,[47] however England has had warmer spells of 31 days which did not coincide with a calendar month—in 1976 and 1995. As well as low rainfall, drought problems were made worse by the fact that the driest parts of England also have the highest population density, and therefore highest water consumption. The drought problems ended in the period from October 2006 to January 2007, which had well above average rainfall.

December 2015 was the wettest month ever recorded in the United Kingdom.[48] The average rainfall for the month was almost doubled.[49]

Temperature[edit]

Generally the United Kingdom has cool to mild winters and warm summers with moderate variation in temperature throughout the year. In England the average annual temperature varies from 8.5 °C (47.3 °F) in the north to 11 °C (51.8 °F) in the south, but over the higher ground this can be several degrees lower.[35] This small variation in temperature is to a large extent due to the moderating effect the Atlantic ocean has—water has a much greater specific heat capacity than air and tends to heat and cool slowly throughout the year. This has a warming influence on coastal areas in winter and a cooling influence in summer.

The ocean is at its coldest in February or early March, thus around coastal areas February is often the coldest month, but inland there is little to choose between February and January as the coldest.[35] Temperatures tend to drop lowest on late winter nights inland, in the presence of high pressure, clear skies, light winds and when there is snow on the ground. On occasions, cold polar or continental air can be drawn in over the United Kingdom to bring very cold weather.

The floors of inland valleys away from warming influence of the sea can be particularly cold as cold, dense air drains into them. A temperature of −26.1 °C (−15.0 °F) was recorded under such conditions at Edgmond in Shropshire on 10 January 1982, the coldest temperature recorded in England and Wales. The following day the coldest maximum temperature in England, at −11.3 °C (11.7 °F), was recorded at the same site.[35]

On average the warmest winter temperatures occur on the south and west coasts, however, warm temperatures occasionally occur due to a foehn wind warming up downwind after the crossing the mountains. Temperatures in these areas can rise to 15 °C (59 °F) in winter on rare occasions[50] This is a particularly notable event in northern Scotland, mainly Aberdeenshire, where these high temperatures can occur in midwinter when the sun only reaches about 10° above the horizon.

July is on average the warmest month, and the highest temperatures tend to occur away from the Atlantic in southern, eastern and central England, where summer temperatures can rise above 30 °C (86 °F). It soared to 38.5 °C (101.3 °F) in Faversham, Kent on 10 August 2003: the highest temperature ever recorded in the United Kingdom.[51]


Absolute temperature ranges
Country Maximum temperatures Minimum temperatures
°C °F location and date °C °F location and date
England 38.5 101.3
  • Faversham, Kent on 10 August 2003
−26.1 −15.0
  • Edgmond, near Newport, Shropshire on 10 January 1982
Wales 35.2 95.4
  • Hawarden Bridge, Flintshire on 2 August 1990
−23.3 −9.9
  • Rhayader, Radnorshire on 21 January 1940
Scotland 32.9 91.2
  • Greycrook, Scottish Borders on 9 August 2003
−27.2 −17.0
  • Braemar, Aberdeenshire on 11 February 1895 and 10 January 1982
  • Altnaharra, Sutherland on 30 December 1995
Northern Ireland 30.8 87.4
  • Knockarevan, near Belleek, County Fermanagh on 30 June 1976
  • Belfast on 12 July 1983
−18.6 −1.5
  • Castlederg,County Tyrone on 23 December 2010

Severe weather[edit]

While the United Kingdom is not particularly noted for extreme weather, it does sometimes occur, and events such as floods and drought may be experienced. The summer of 1976, for example, experienced temperatures as high as 35 °C (95 °F), and it was so dry the country suffered drought and water shortages.[52]

Extended periods of extreme weather, such as the droughts of 1975–1976, summer 2006, and spring 2012, the long hot summers of 1911, 1976, 2003 and 2006, and the winters of 1946–1947, 1962–1963, and 2009–2010, are often caused by blocking anti-cyclones which can persist for several days, weeks, or even months. In winter they can bring long periods of cold dry weather and in summer long periods of hot dry weather.

Hurricane Gordon's path

There have also been occurrences of severe flash floods caused by intense rainfall; the most severe was the Lynmouth disaster of 1952 in which 34 people died and 38 houses and buildings were completely destroyed. In the summer of 2004, a severe flash flood devastated the town of Boscastle in Cornwall. However, the worst floods in the United Kingdom in modern times occurred in the North Sea flood of 1953. A powerful storm from the Atlantic moved around Scotland and down the east coast of England. As it moved south it produced a storm surge which was magnified as the North Sea became narrower further south. By the time the storm affected south-east England and the Netherlands, the surge had reached the height of 3.6 metres (12 ft). Over 300 people were killed by the floods in eastern England.

Thunderstorms are most common in southern and eastern England, and least common in the north and west.[53] In London, thunderstorms occur on average 14–19 days a year, while in most of Northern Ireland and the west of Scotland thunderstorms occur on around 3 days a year.[53] Occasionally, thunderstorms can be severe and produce large hailstones as seen in Ottery St Mary, Devon in October 2008, where drifts reached 1.8 metres (5 ft 11 in).[54]

Strong winds occur mainly in the autumn and winter months associated with low pressure systems and Scotland experiences hurricane-force winds in most winters. The Gale of January 1976, Great Storm of 1987 (23 fatalities) and the Burns' Day storm of 1990 (97 fatalities) are particularly severe examples; Scotland saw winds of 142 mph during Cyclone Xaver in 2013.[55]

The most rain recorded to fall on a single day was 279 mm at Martinstown (Dorset) on 18 July 1955,[35] but also 243 mm fell at Bruton, Somerset on 28 June 1917.[56] Heavy rain also fell between 20 and 25 June in 2007; some areas experienced a month's rainfall in one day. Four people died in the flooding and over £1.5 billion of damage to businesses and properties was caused. On 19 August 1993, London Heathrow Airport recorded 257mm of rainfall.

Tropical cyclones themselves do not affect the UK due to the seas being too cold – they need temperatures above 26.5 °C (79.7 °F) to remain active. The waters near the UK, the Atlantic Ocean, only have temperatures of 2 to 18 °C (36 to 64 °F),[57] so any tropical cyclone that does come anywhere near the UK has said to have undergone a process called extratropical transition. This now means it is an extratropical cyclone, which the UK frequently experiences. The Great Storm of 1987 was a very deep depression which formed in the Bay of Biscay, which also contained the remnants of Hurricane Floyd.[58] Hurricane Lili of 1996 and Hurricane Gordon of 2006 both crossed the UK as strong extratropical cyclones with tropical storm-force winds, causing transport closures, power-cuts and flooding in Northern Ireland, Scotland and South West England. In 2011, the remnants of Hurricane Katia passed over northwestern Scotland with winds near 70 mph (110 km/h).

Tornadoes[edit]

It is internationally recognised that the United Kingdom has the highest incidence of tornadoes, measured by unit area of land, than any other country in the world. Dr T Theodore Fujita (inventor of the Fujita scale) an American meteorologist, was the first to recognise the UK as the top site for tornadoes, in 1973.[59][60] The United Kingdom has at least 33 tornadoes per year,[61] more than any other country in the world relative to its land area.[62] Although most tornadoes are weak, there are occasional destructive events. For example, the Birmingham tornado of 2005 and the London tornado of 2006. Both registered F2 on the Fujita scale and both caused significant damage and injury. The largest ever recorded was thought to have been an F4, again in London in 1091. The most deadly occurred on December 28, 1879. All 74 lives were lost when a passenger train plunged from the Tay Bridge (Tayside) into the Tay Estuary, when the middle section of the bridge collapsed. Although the bridge was poorly constructed and had already been weakened in earlier gales (including the pre-existing winds at the time of the tragedy), the ultimate failure is believed to have been caused by two or three waterspouts which were sighted close to the bridge immediately before the accident.[63] A tornado also developed in London on 3 July 2007.

The UK also holds the title for the highest known 'outbreak' of tornadoes outside of the United States. The largest tornado outbreak in Britain is also the largest tornado outbreak known anywhere in Europe. On 23 November 1981, 105 tornadoes were spawned by a cold front in the space of 5.25 hours. Excepting Derbyshire, every county in a triangular area from Gwynedd to Humberside to Essex was hit by at least one tornado, while Norfolk was hit by at least 13. Very fortunately most tornadoes were short-lived and also weak (the strongest was around T5 on the TORRO Tornado Scale) and no deaths occurred.[63]

Climate history[edit]

The climate of the United Kingdom has not always been the way it is today. During some periods it was much warmer and in others it was much colder. The last glacial period was a period of extreme cold weather that lasted for tens of thousands of years and ended about 10,000 years ago. During this period the temperature was so low that much of the surrounding ocean froze and a great ice sheet extended over all of the United Kingdom except the south of England (connected to mainland Europe via the dry English Channel) and southern coastal areas of Wales.

The cold period from the 16th to the mid-19th centuries is known as the Little Ice Age.

The temperature records in England are continuous back to the mid 17th century. The Central England temperature (CET) record is the oldest in the world, and is a compound source of cross-correlated records from several locations in central England. Precipitation records date back to the eighteenth century and the modern England and Wales Precipitation series begins in 1766.

A detailed narrative account of the weather of every year from 1913 to 1942, with photographs of plants taken on the same day in each of those years, may be found in Willis (1944).[64]

As with many parts of the world, over the last century the United Kingdom has reported a warming trend in temperatures. While some of this may be due to a recovery from the cooler period of climate mid 20th century (particularly the 1960s) the last 20 years has nonetheless seen an unprecedented level of warm weather. This rise in temperatures is illustrated by the most recent dataset (1981–2010) for Belfast and Cambridge Botanical Gardens, and the same data 50 years previous (1931–1960).

Climate data for Belfast, 1931-1960
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 6.0
(42.8)
6.8
(44.2)
9.2
(48.6)
11.8
(53.2)
14.9
(58.8)
17.5
(63.5)
18.4
(65.1)
18.3
(64.9)
16.1
(61)
12.6
(54.7)
9.1
(48.4)
6.9
(44.4)
12.3
(54.13)
Average low °C (°F) 1.5
(34.7)
1.5
(34.7)
2.7
(36.9)
3.9
(39)
6.1
(43)
9.2
(48.6)
11.0
(51.8)
10.7
(51.3)
9.2
(48.6)
6.8
(44.2)
4.1
(39.4)
2.9
(37.2)
5.8
(42.45)
Source: Stadtklima[65]
Climate data for Belfast, 1981-2010
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 7.1
(44.8)
7.4
(45.3)
9.5
(49.1)
11.9
(53.4)
15.0
(59)
17.4
(63.3)
19.1
(66.4)
18.5
(65.3)
16.3
(61.3)
12.8
(55)
9.5
(49.1)
7.4
(45.3)
12.66
(54.78)
Average low °C (°F) 1.8
(35.2)
1.7
(35.1)
2.9
(37.2)
4.3
(39.7)
6.8
(44.2)
9.6
(49.3)
11.6
(52.9)
11.4
(52.5)
9.5
(49.1)
6.9
(44.4)
4.0
(39.2)
2.1
(35.8)
6.05
(42.88)
Source: Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute[66]
Climate data for Change in monthly mean temperatures at Belfast between 1931-1960 and 1981-2010
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) +1.1C +0.6C +0.3C +0.1C +0.1C -0.1C +0.7C +0.2C +0.2C +0.4C +0.5C +0.4C +0.36C
Average low °C (°F) +0.3C +0.2C +0.2C +0.4C +0.7C +0.4C +0.6C +0.7C +0.3C +0.1C -0.1C -0.8C +0.25C
Source: Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute[66]

As the above tables show, all months except December at Belfast exhibit warming when both maximum and minimum temperatures are taken into account.

Climate data for Cambridge, 1931-1960
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 6.3
(43.3)
7.2
(45)
10.5
(50.9)
13.7
(56.7)
17.2
(63)
20.5
(68.9)
22.2
(72)
22.0
(71.6)
19.2
(66.6)
14.6
(58.3)
9.9
(49.8)
7.3
(45.1)
14.22
(57.6)
Average low °C (°F) 0.6
(33.1)
0.5
(32.9)
1.6
(34.9)
3.8
(38.8)
6.5
(43.7)
9.7
(49.5)
11.8
(53.2)
11.5
(52.7)
9.5
(49.1)
6.1
(43)
3.5
(38.3)
1.7
(35.1)
5.57
(42.03)
Source: Stadtklima[67]
Climate data for Cambridge, 1981-2010
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 7.5
(45.5)
7.9
(46.2)
11.1
(52)
13.8
(56.8)
17.5
(63.5)
20.4
(68.7)
23.1
(73.6)
22.8
(73)
19.5
(67.1)
15.2
(59.4)
10.5
(50.9)
7.6
(45.7)
14.74
(58.53)
Average low °C (°F) 1.4
(34.5)
1.1
(34)
3.0
(37.4)
4.3
(39.7)
7.3
(45.1)
10.2
(50.4)
12.4
(54.3)
12.2
(54)
10.0
(50)
7.2
(45)
3.9
(39)
1.7
(35.1)
6.23
(43.21)
Source: Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute[68]
Climate data for Change in monthly mean temperatures at Cambridge between 1931-1960 and 1981-2010
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) +1.2C +0.7C +0.6C +0.1C +0.3C -0.1C +0.9C +0.8C +0.3C +0.6C +0.6C +0.3C +0.52C
Average low °C (°F) +0.8C +0.6C +1.4C +0.5C +0.8C +0.5C +0.6C +0.7C +0.5C +1.1C +0.4C +0.0C +0.66C
Source: Stadtklima[67]

Again, a similar warming trend is shown for the South East of England, albeit slightly more pronounced with no month recording a fall in overall mean temperatures.

Monthly temperature extremes[edit]

Climate data for United Kingdom
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 18.3
(64.9)
19.7
(67.5)
25.6
(78.1)
29.4
(84.9)
32.8
(91)
35.6
(96.1)
36.7
(98.1)
38.5
(101.3)
35.6
(96.1)
29.9
(85.8)
22.4
(72.3)
18.3
(64.9)
38.5
(101.3)
Average high °C (°F) 6.4
(43.5)
6.6
(43.9)
8.9
(48)
11.4
(52.5)
14.7
(58.5)
17.3
(63.1)
19.4
(66.9)
19.1
(66.4)
16.5
(61.7)
12.8
(55)
9.1
(48.4)
6.7
(44.1)
12.4
(54.3)
Average low °C (°F) 0.9
(33.6)
0.7
(33.3)
2.1
(35.8)
3.4
(38.1)
6.0
(42.8)
8.8
(47.8)
10.9
(51.6)
10.8
(51.4)
8.8
(47.8)
6.2
(43.2)
3.3
(37.9)
1.1
(34)
5.3
(41.5)
Record low °C (°F) −27.2
(−17)
−27.2
(−17)
−22.8
(−9)
−15.0
(5)
−9.4
(15.1)
−5.6
(21.9)
−2.5
(27.5)
−4.5
(23.9)
−6.7
(19.9)
−11.7
(10.9)
−23.3
(−9.9)
−27.2
(−17)
−27.2
(−17)
Source: Met Office[69]
Absolute temperature ranges
Month Maximum temperatures Minimum temperatures
°C °F location and date °C °F location and date
January 18.3 64.9
  • Aber, Gwynedd (27 Jan 1958)/Aber, Gwynedd (10 Jan 1971)/Aboyne, Aberdeenshire (26 Jan 2003)/Inchmarlo, Kincardineshire (26 Jan 2003)
−27.2 −17.0
  • Braemar, Aberdeenshire (10 Jan 1982)
February 19.7 67.5
  • Greenwich Observatory, London (13 Feb 1998) [32]
−27.2 −17.0
  • Braemar, Aberdeenshire (11 Feb 1895)
March 25.6 78.1
  • Mepal, Cambridgeshire (29 Mar 1968)
−22.8 −9.0
  • Logie Coldstone, Aberdeenshire (14 Mar 1958)
April 29.4 84.9
  • Camden Square, London (16 Apr 1949)
−15.0 5.0
  • Newton Rigg, Cumbria (2 Apr 1917)
May 32.8 91.0
  • Camden Square, London (22 May 1922)/Horsham, West Sussex (29 May 1944)/Tunbridge Wells, Kent (29 May 1944)/Regent's Park, London (29 May 1944)
−9.4 15.1
  • Lynford, Norfolk (4 May 1941)/Lynford, Nyfolk (11 May 1941)/Fort Augustus, Highland (15 May 1941)
June 35.6 96.1
  • Southampton Mayflower Park (28 Jun 1976)
−5.6 21.9
  • Dalwhinnie, Highland (9 Jun 1955)/Santon Downham, Norfolk (1 Jun 1962)/Santon Downham, Norfolk (3 Jun 1962)
July 36.7 98.1
  • Heathrow, London (1 Jul 2015)
−2.5 27.5
  • Lagganlia, Highland (15 Jul 1977)/St. Harmon, Powys (9 Jul 1986)
August 38.5 101.3
  • Brogdale, Faversham, Kent (10 Aug 2003)
−4.5 23.9
  • Lagganlia, Highland (21 Aug 1973)
September 35.6 96.1
  • Bawtry, Hesley Hall, South Yorkshire (2 Sep 1906)
−6.7 19.9
  • Dalwhinnie, Highland (26 Sep 1942)
October 29.9 85.8
  • Gravesend, Kent (1 Oct 2011)
−11.7 10.9
  • Dalwhinnie, Highland (28 Oct 1948)
November 22.4 72.3
  • Trawsgoed, Ceredigion (1 Nov 2015)
−23.3 −9.9
  • Braemar, Aberdeenshire (14 Nov 1919)
December 18.3 64.9
  • Achnashellach, Highland (2 Dec 1948)
−27.2 −17.0
  • Altnaharra, Highland (30 Dec 1995)

There are reservations over the maximum temperature records set in April & in Camden Square for May. For April, the next highest figure is 27.8 °C recorded at Wisley, Surrey on 23 April 2011.

A disputed temperature of 42 °C was set at an airfield in Wisley, Surrey on 18 July 2006. It has been suggested that the reading for this temperature should in fact have been 32 °C. It is worth noting that the Met Office expected temperatures to surpass the August 2003 record during the July 2006 heatwave, and it is still speculated that both heatwaves did set higher temperatures than those officially recorded.

Climate change[edit]

Central estimates produced by the Met Office predict average annual temperature to increase by 2 °C (4 °F) and the warmest summer day to increase by 3 °C (6 °F) by the 2050s. Average winter rainfall is also likely to increase and most areas will see a slight decrease in annual rainfall.[70]

According to the Met Office, in the UK, the decade from 2000-2009 was the warmest since instrumental record dating started in 1850.[71]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ In accordance with World Meteorological Organization (WMO) recommendations, the Met Office maintains long-term averages of the UK climate, based on standard 30-year periods. The latest 30-year period is for1981-2010.

References[edit]

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External links[edit]